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Japan calls for policy changes

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Representatives of Japanese companies and investors on Wednesday submitted a list of policy recommendations to the government concerning 21 challenges to the Kingdom’s business climate. Photo supplied

Japan calls for policy changes

Representatives of Japanese companies and investors on Wednesday submitted a list of policy recommendations to the government concerning 21 challenges to the Kingdom’s business climate.

Japanese Ambassador to Cambodia Masahiro Mikami and leaders of the Japanese Business Association in Cambodia (JBAC), Japan International Cooperation Agency and Japan External Trade Organisation (Jetro) handed the list to Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC) secretary-general Sok Chenda Sophea.

The recommendations were submitted during the 19th Cambodia-Japan Public-Private Sector Meeting, held at the CDC with Chenda Sophea presiding.

The delegation highlighted four of the 21 issues in the list as priorities.

First, the delegation called for Cambodian officials to work with their Thai counterparts on temporarily making the Stung Bot-Ban Nong Ian land crossing in Poipet town’s Stung Bot commune in Banteay Meanchey province 100 per cent operational.

Second, it called for adjustments to the minimum tax imposed on qualified investment project (QIP) companies.

Third, it requested clarification as to the conditions under which foreign nationals are entitled to seniority indemnity following voluntarily termination of their labour agreement.

Fourth, it asked for a clear indication of electricity charges and advanced notification of planned power outages.

At the meeting, JBAC chairman Norimasa Yamazaki read a letter his association submitted to Prime Minister Hun Sen earlier that day, thanking the government for organising the event 19 times since 2007.

“At JBAC, we would like to express our appreciation for the spirit of cooperation from the government of Cambodia at these meetings with the relevant ministries and organisations, which seek immediate action and solutions to each of these issues,” he said.

Yamazaki said the list noted the results of discussions with the government during the 2019-2020 season, and underscored the issues that needed resolution during the 2020-2021 season.

“JBAC also hopes that the issues raised in these policy recommendations will be addressed at the Government-Private Sector Forum [GPSF] to be tackled immediately.

“We understand that the GPSF is a key forum in developing the important policy package to facilitate trade and investment,” he said.

The 19th Government-Private Sector Forum will be held on April 1 and chaired by Hun Sen.

Mikami said the strong support from the government, its ministries and institutions have been helpful in easing the challenges Japanese investors and businessmen in Cambodia face.

He expressed his hopes for a swift resolution to lingering issues, and that the government will launch an action plan at the upcoming GPSF to promote the Kingdom’s competitiveness and further diversify its economy “to the next level”.

The CDC’s Chenda Sophea said the flow of Japanese investment has helped to diversify Cambodia’s industrial sector from garment to non-garment manufacturing – particularly electronics and automobile accessories.

“Such investment from Japan creates new opportunities for Cambodia, diversifies its economic base and enables its entry into the global supply chain in line with the government’s Industrial Development Policy 2015-2025,” he said.

Between 1994 and the end of last year, the CDC approved on 143 projects of Japanese foreign direct investment, worth about $2.785 billion.

Jetro data shows that Cambodia exported more than $1.7 billion worth of products to the Japanese market last year – up 7.7 per cent from 2018.

The Kingdom imported more than $563 million worth of products from Japan last year.

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